Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Orin Incident


Account of the Orin Labor Revolt 2306AD

Perhaps it had been inevitable, but it seemed none of the security forces were prepared. In recent months the mine shafts in Orin had suffered several structural failures, the result of a drive to make quotas pushing safe mining practices aside.  All told scores of Tracted workers, including women and children, had been trapped or crushed in cave-ins. As accidents accumulated a rising tide of rage built toward a tidal wave of violence. The miners wanted work to halt. They wanted efforts to be made to try and search for survivors. Corporate had scoffed; this was not in the terms of their contracts. To the executives of FerrumSky it was cheaper to bring in new labor than shut down a mine to search for survivors.  They relented only in part, so long as it was off shift and overseen by volunteer Prods, workers could try and find the strength and time to mount a rescue. This half-measure worked at first, but then came the final insult.
Work Crews 22A, C, and D from Shift Delta 976 had ended the day well behind quota. The shift overseer felt it necessary to extend the entire shift by four hours. This easily consumed what time D976 had to contribute to the faltering search. (Now, resentment long left unattended had boiled into insurrection.)>this sentence relocated for impact.
For his efforts Shift Overseer Xander had been unceremoniously decapitated with a shovel by an enraged handful of miners who had planned to keep looking for their wives and children. The sudden attack caught the standing security forces flatfooted. Wasting no time Work Crew 22D of Shift Delta 976 overran their guards in seconds, triggering 22A and 22C to follow suit. There was no semblance of order just dozens of bodies surging over four surprised men. They never even had time to touch their weapons. One moment they were there and the next they were trampled underfoot. Then the entire Shift Delta 976 erupted into complete bedlam.
The rampaging shift made it as far as the entrance to their sector before encountering a gate. While it slowed them momentarily the press of bodies easily forced the meager chain link fence aside. The only appreciable loss was the leading edge of miners, crushed beneath the impetuous of the headlong charge.
By now the noise had alerted more guards. First reports were dismissed by those on the surface. Never had the settlement of Orin, or the world of Hathor for that matter, experienced a labor revolt of this magnitude. There were procedures in place to deal with a Tracted or two getting out of hand but an entire work shift? It was simply unprecedented.
Unsure of how to respond, panicked cries went out on the TAC net.  Elements of shifts Alpha 006, Zeta 357, and Gamma 584 overheard these reports and immediately joined the uprising by attacking the closest Prods and destroying anything between them and the surface. What began as chaos became all out pandemonium.
The disbelief meant that no organized effort was made to put down the uprising. Individual groups of Prods followed standard procedures and used non-lethal rounds fired from CCR's, and were overwhelmed. Gradually, a sense of purpose entered into the actions of the Contracted of Orin. Where once had been a pell-mell dash, a sense of purpose descended on the situation. Freed from the confines of the work shafts and moving into the more open corridors of the access shafts the mob formed into smaller groups of miners who brutally turned their tools on their oppressors.
As the scope of the crisis became increasingly evident the klaxon sounded. Orin's masters sealed the metal gate separating the hewn corridors of the central mine shaft from the remainder of Orin. Prods moved through the dormitory holds sealing off-duty shifts in. Anyone outside of their designated areas was simply shot. Rubber bullets were exchanged for more lethal fair and barricades erected.  Their flanks secured, the Prods gathered at the Gate and formed a wall of overlapping riot shields. Shock batons crackled, rifles and shotguns were pumped.
As the workers approached the gate a change settled over them. Artificial divisions fell away, replaced with a new resolve. Freedom from their contracts was in sight. Progenitor colonists strode on with Drops. The enhanced strove next to those whose genes remained unchanged. All had been liberated and joined as they had broken their contracts.
The door was a solid edifice of rusted steel, one meter thick and four meters high. Set into solid rock it formed a barrier between the mines and the dormitories. Groups of Gen-Mod Breakers wielding saws set about cutting breaches along the length of the door. As gashes were rent into the sides of the gate Breakers with Pneumatic hammers set about widening the breaches.
As the breaches opened the Prods held firm. In short order the holes were wide enough to admit the rioters in ones and twos. The Prods let loose barrages of fire as the former miners broke through like water bursting a dam. Drones lashed out with pliable lines and seized Breakers pulling them into the open where they were gunned down with merciless fervor. But all weapons have limitations. Without time to pause and reload the outgoing fire slackened and Breakers reached the Prod lines. The shield-wall buckled and more and more Breakers burst through and a vicious melee began.
The Prods, still outnumbered even after the carnage, broke and fled, though several were torn down by the enraged miners. The surviving Breakers slipped out of Orin Mine into Hathor's bleak night. A few hours later a convoy of reinforcements arrived, sweeping the complex and gathering the surviving Prods. With no Breakers to contradict them they reported the rebellion crushed. FerrumSky never traced the escaped Breakers but never the less they declared those who escaped to have died from exposure in Hathor's hostile climate.
The executive board of FerrumSky conducted an extensive review of the cost of the Orin Incident. They determined that the lack of resolve and readiness displayed by Armed Security had caused substantial material loss in the incident.  The remaining Prods stationed at Orin were repurposed to replace the lost contracts. Then FerrumSky negotiated to bring in the notorious Black Squadron Security firm. Best known for their suppression of Earth's food riots at the close of the 22nd century, they rapidly took to instilling a new fear into the Tracted.
However, the story of the Orin Mine is whispered amongst those still slaving away in the many mines and little by little, in twos and threes more Tracted have broken their contracts and braved everything to escape. The Orin Incident, which FerrumSky distilled to a group of columns on a spreadsheet, became a candle in the darkness for the Tracted of Hathor.

(by Matt Wirth with Nick Baran and Robert Ferrick)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

More Design Decisions and More Playtesting

Playtesting at Brainstorm in Chicago.
Photo Matt Wirth
I have to admit I've been neglecting the blog. It isn't that Broken Contract has taken a backseat. Indeed, it's actually been the primary focus of my "free time." Here is a breakdown of what has been going on:

The Rulebook

Over the summer I made the decision to extract all of the background information from the rulebook to keep it concise and useful to those who use rule sets for their own purposes. This gives us the flexibility that as the rules evolve, the background and scenarios can still maintain their relevance. It also means that I can put the compact rule set anywhere I want, making them more accessible to people.

Broken Contract Rule Book PDF 9/3/15

FerrumSky Episode I

This means that all of that background and the scenarios need to go somewhere. For now the new home is in the FerrumSky book which presents all of the background information composed regarding the iron mining and manufacture corporation, FerrumSky. All of the characters written/depicted for the setting, along with a collection of scenarios and special rules will all go within this module/supplement/book.

Scenarios and Characters

The last two months I have done a lot of playtesting both solo and with various people in Milwaukee and Chicago. These sessions have inspired a lot of minor changes. Many of the stats and special rules of the characters have been reworked. Scenarios have been roughly composed and some have been kept and others have been played, analyzed, and discarded. It's definitely been a process. The last couple of days I've been solo playing the first 3 mission campaign over and over again to fine tune the campaign rules and make sure that it's fun and replayable with different results.

3D Prints from Prodos.

The Models

After accumulating this pile of 3D printed parts they were shipped off to Valiant for casting. As of last week Valiant contacted me letting me know that silicon masters of all of these parts have been made and the master molds and first casts should be coming soon. From left to right the above models are Will Kollis - the Breaker Crew Leader, Micha Donelly, Overseer Billins (with alternate arm and head) and the Prod Gen-Mod with alternate arm. All of these models were part of the Kickstarter and represent what I believe to be a step forward for the quality and presentation of Broken Contract.

A mix of pro printed components and proxies.

The Game Components

Over the last couple months Sam has been finishing up the components needed to play the game. Here you can see completed designs for the Character Dashboard, Initiative Deck, and Action/Wound chits. He's currently working on the Equipment Cards to replace these as well as proper Character Stat Cards. That will leave Special Ability Cards to be the final piece of the puzzle as far as player interface with their dashboard.

Board Sections and the Making Mine Scenery Series

One of the big draws to the Broken Contract Design Blog was the Making Mine Scenery series of how-to articles. Well, I've been looking at printing options and the printed board sections are looking like they are going to be 8"x8", not 8"x10" like the mine sections that I've built. What does that mean? Well, I'll probably have to reboot the series and start over! The techniques will still be the same, but I'm going to want to rebuild everything to the correct size, so we will begin again in the near future.

That's all the latest, If you have any questions don't hesitate to comment. Thank you for following along.

-Nick

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Playtesting at Realm of the Dragon!

Going over the Actions and Interruptions play
cards as I set up the scenario.
Photo: Nathan Wenig

Back in July I sat down with my buddy Nathan and play tested a couple of scenarios at his home. He seemed to really enjoy himself and it had been a while since I had done any playtesting so I was looking at the game with fresh eyes. We talked about how the games went and my mind started cranking on his feedback and feedback I had gotten in May/June from a playtesting group in Spain headed up by @Robh, one of the Kickstarter backers. My brain was processing various changes I wanted to make and I was excited to dive back into the ruleset and start making tweaks. A short while later Nate started pushing for me to run an event at Realm of the Dragon in Wauwatosa, WI. I happily said, "Yes!"

Passing out the new Character Dashboards
designed by Sam Alcarez.
Photo: Nathan Wenig

During the weeks before the event I set up an event on MeetUp.com and let my new semi-regular board gaming group know about the event as well. I knew there were a few people coming, but was ecstatic and a little overwhelmed to walk into a packed house of gaming enthusiasm. It was also Warmahordes night so the crowd for that combined with the 7 people who showed up specifically for Broken Contract had me feeling a lot less relaxed than I expected so I rushed my way through getting everyone set up and roughly up to speed.

Breakers rushing up two adjacent passages while
Officer Hickley moves to the middle so he can be
supported by his fellow Officers.
Photo: Nathan Wenig

Once everyone was set up and assigned a character we got into the scenario. This wasn't one that I already had written, I had walked in the door planning to run "It's Time!" but with the large crowd I wanted to go with something a little bigger that required more movement so I threw together a scenario on the fly with a bunch of board sections I was going to use if we made it to a 2nd scenario that night. With the pressure on though I decided to go with what I thought would feel more like a big game and give them some options.

The unsung hero of the day, Ari Gaylen, moving to rig the keypad
to call the freight elevator down.

In this scenario two groups of Breakers were moving up adjacent tunnels towards two potential objectives. To the left in the above photo was a storage area with a jersey barricade and some barrels in storage. The storage area masked an old passage that has been sealed over and is now used for smuggling contraband into the mines. Only the criminal, Nells Turnbull, knows about this exit. If he died, that option for escape would be lost. To the right in the above photo was the freight elevator, its door closed and the elevator sitting on another floor elsewhere in the mines. To call the elevator they would have to steal the key card off of Overseer Billins or attempt to rig the control pad to bring the elevator down. Ari Gaylen was ignored by the Prods so she rushed past and set the elevator in motion.

Officer Tulson moving into position to spray the
oncoming Breakers with rubber bullets.
Photo: Nathan Wenig

Over the course of 7-8 turns Characters maneuvered and fought their way into each other. In the end Officer Tulson and Officer Hickley lay unconscious, bleeding out, and Overseer Billins retreated from the fight. Meanwhile, the Breakers left no one behind and got everyone onto the elevator and shut the door behind them. Of course, this would only be a brief reprieve  as there would still be a whole lot of ground to cover and Prods to fight through to make their exit to freedom.

Trest the Gen-Mod taking a beating.
Photo: Nathan Wenig

It was a great night and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I was particularly happy with how the new Character Dashboards worked even if several of the components weren't completed prototypes yet (for example the chits for Actions, Wounds, and Effects weren't double sided so I had to constantly hand people counters). Watching people play is always informative and I got a good read of how people seemed to be grasping the game and how they interacted with it. Also, special thanks to Devan B. for attempting a different Action or Interruption every turn to find out how they all worked. This rarely happens so many of the Actions and Interruptions have only been tested in the field once or twice. It was great to see these commonly ignored options get put through the motions. Some of them are situational but extremely useful in those situations.

It was a great night and I can't thank Nathan and Realm of the Dragon enough for inviting me to do some playtesting. And of course, thanks to all of the playtesters who came out and gave it a whirl. Nathan was already asking about bringing me back in September so keep an eye out for that. By then I should have more models and professionally printed materials to better showcase the game, and probably some new scenarios too in case any of these playtesters make a return visit.

My next outing to show off the game will be at Brainstorm Comics in Chicago, IL on September 12th. This is a special event so it will get it's own post in a couple days. More info to come!

Thanks for reading!
-Nick


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Design Discussion: Counters

Dead counter by Sam Alcarez

One thing that most miniature games have in common is the use of counters. I fell in love with miniature gaming because of the immersion that comes with the visual experience. One of the things that has always detracted from that visual experience though is all of the on board clutter that comes from counters littering the field of battle. There have been some more artful approaches like upright blast markers, but cardstock or plastic counters have a hard time preserving the look and feel of my game area.  I am one of those extremists that has an assortment of fully modeled counters for some of my armies just so that I can maintain an attractive play area.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I love in-game effects like being drugged, set on fire, knocked unconscious, shocked, etc. When you have a lot of in-game effects, you need counters to keep track of them all. In my early playtesting of Broken Contract, the field was littered with ugly counters to keep track of. And they got in the way of the models too, so I started studying other games to see what I liked about them.

Character Dashboard by Sam Alcarez

Some games use lists making counters an absolute necessity. Others use cards that you can sleeve and check boxes on with a dry erase marker, but the cards are playing card size or smaller and don't account for every in-game effect. Others use mid sized character dashboards where some wounds and effects are logged on the dashboard but others are still marked on the board with counters. And finally, there are no more than a handful of games I know of that strive to keep all notation on the dashboard. After playing some of these games, I started to feel strongly that this was the way for Broken Contract to go.

Restrained counter by Sam Alcarez.

We're working to make sure every in game effect has a corresponding counter to place on the Character Dashboard. The exception will eventually be dropped equipment and prone models. The equipment pack that was the last reward added to the Kickstarter will be ideal for dropped weapons and prone models can currently can be laid down. Ideally they should get sculpts to represent them so people who paint their models don't get them all chipped up.

I think for those like me who got into miniature gaming because of the look and feel of the models played on fully modeled boards will really appreciate this attention to preserving that. Though I know, without a doubt, some will use the game cards, without the dashboards, and will litter the table with the counters just like they always have. This will give everyone the option of playing the type of game they want to play.

Our first public play testing session in the Milwaukee metropolitan area is this Thursday at Realm of the Dragon in Wauwatosa, WI. You can get the full details here:

Broken Contract Playtesting at Realm of the Dragon

Thanks for reading!
-Nick

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Making Mine Scenery Part XVI

The alarm has been sounded!
'It's Time!' is the scenario that comes in the Beta Rules and will also appear in the final rule book. It sets the scene for a break attempt as the miners have been pushed too hard for too long under abysmal work conditions. It is also meant to set up a small introductory skirmish, allowing you to play with up to 8 models on a tiny, 8"x20" play area. Today I'm going to talk about the construction of that play area.


Months ago I constructed this piece from foamcore, Plastruct girders, a piece of textured cardstock, and some pink foam. The light on top of the box that you can barely make out was shaved of a GW Cities of Death piece. I finally glued it in place on an 8"x10" piece of 1/8" masonite board. At the "mouth" of the entrance I glued down a 4" rectangular piece of Plastruct tread plate.


The shape of these board sections is supposed to be more jagged and weird, like they are still currently mining it out, but it still needed to be a playable space. It also needed to look more dangerous, like there is a threat of falling rock, so I shaped some rock sections and glued them up high. Here are some other progress shots:




The last picture was the original concept board that I created almost a year and a half ago now for 'It's Time'. Here you can see more of the pieces being glued in and it start to take shape.




You can see the structure is filling in. Now we're going to fast forward and skip all of those in between steps you know from the first several Making Mine Scenery installments.



If you look at the last pink foam pic, this that same section from a different angle. This photo was taken before weathering powders were added.


The OSL glow I used for the alarm isn't great, but I can always go back and mess with it later.


Weathering powders Forgeworld Medium Earth and Aged Rust were added here and there to create visual interest, particularly along the corners where the earthen floor meets the rough rock wall.


A "dusty" shot of the work area from 'It's Time'.


Looks like a scuffle is about to ensue.


Prod Gunner, Lamal Tulson, has sounded the alarm and is rushing to intervene!


Nells is sneaking up behind Officer Hickley, his knife tucked behind his back.


The Surveillance Drone capturing this moment is clearly moving at high speeds because everything is blurry. Can Officer Tulson save Officer Hickley? You'll have to play the scenario yourselves to find out!

Are these board sections done? Not quite. I'd like to add some signs, make some ore carts, and add a door that can raise and lower just like the scenario dictates (I made one of these in Making Mine Scenery Part VII). Still, it's almost there.

Thanks for reading hobby friends!
-Nick

Want to see all the stages? Start at Part I!

Making Mine Scenery Part I
Making Mine Scenery Part II
Making Mine Scenery Part III
Making Mine Scenery Part IV
Making Mine Scenery Part V
Making Mine Scenery Part VI
Making Mine Scenery Part VII
Making Mine Scenery Part VIII
Making Mine Scenery Part IX
Making Mine Scenery Part X
Making Mine Scenery Part XIV
Making Mine Scenery Part XV

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Models, Components, and Playtesting!


June was a busy month and I feel like I neglected the blog as a result. Those who backed the Kickstarter have been getting updates every week or two but if you are just a lover of hobby blogs then you may feel like you've been missing out.


If you are a fan of the Making Mine Scenery series here on the blog, here's a sneak peak of how the 'It's Time' board is coming along. It isn't finished yet, but it is playable so it got used in today's playtesting.


Several weeks back we got the Breaker Crew Leader, Will Kollis, in from Prodos. He was the first model Prodos did for us and I think he came out fantastic. He blends right in with the existing Tim Barry sculpts too.

He was quickly followed with several other renders.

Prod Gen-Mod with Shock Fists and I-beam.

Overseer Billins with Shock Baton and Riot Shield plus alternate bits.

Micha Donelly. The blood will be removed from the final version.

As you can see, Prodos knocked out some great sculpts. The Prod Gen-Mod will stand 40mm and Overseer Billins and Micha Donelly, standing roughly 5'7", are each 29mm. With what we've learned making Overseer Billins, expect to see more multi-option kits coming in the future.


Finally, we got our first professionally printed components: the Initiative Deck which is used to determine what order the characters go in each turn. We're currently reworking a number of other components after seeing how people have interacted with them. We'll hopefully be showing those off in the near future.

This month we'll be finishing up the remaining renders. We'll also be doing some heavy playtesting. And we're working on a bunch of printed components too, so there should be a steady stream of stuff to show off. Thanks for reading!

-Nick

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Making Mine Scenery Part XV


This week so far I have messed around a little bit more with my batch of Horizon Creation 3D bits. I liked my first attempt at fencing so I made a bunch more to start with.

A bunch of Horizon Creations 3D bits built into fencing.
The two long sections use full ~4.25"x2" hex sheets from Horizon Creations 3D, framed in with a bunch of their rivet bars. I also made a section that looked broken and repaired and a section ideal for my 4-way intersection columns.


This narrow fence support was painted exactly the same way as described in Making Mine Scenery XIV except that I chose not to go as heavy on the rust.

My newish camera phone has a better camera yet I have a harder time getting good pictures.

This is a top view of the new 4-way intersection. As you can see I made this one with some caution stripes for more visual interest.


This shot features another Horizon Creation 3D bit: one of the fences from their fence pack. I feel like the caution strip base is too pristine and needs to be dirtied up a bit, but I'll get to that later.


Before I wrap up I want to talk about where I am going with my current board plan. What you are looking at here are two horizontal straights, a verticle straight, a T section, two 4-way intersections, and my freight elevator. I want to be able to create flowing layouts that aren't too large that allow for a little bit of maneuvering, so at least one more 4-way intersection and either another T section or an L section should be up next to have my "basics" covered and give me greater flexibility. As always, there will be more to come!

Thanks for reading and make sure to check out Horizon Creations 3D and use the "BROKENCONTRACT" discount code if you decide to pick up anything. :)

-Nick

Check out the other parts of the series:

Making Mine Scenery Part I
Making Mine Scenery Part II
Making Mine Scenery Part III
Making Mine Scenery Part IV
Making Mine Scenery Part V
Making Mine Scenery Part VI
Making Mine Scenery Part VII
Making Mine Scenery Part VIII
Making Mine Scenery Part IX
Making Mine Scenery Part X
Making Mine Scenery Part XIV

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Making Mine Scenery Part XIV


It's been a while since I've really gotten stuck into doing some work on my mines. Over the last couple of weeks our beloved pitbull, Ian Mackaynine, has had 3 surgeries. He had a growth removed from his leg, but then he tore out one of his sutures running around the house. For surgery number two they tried a less invasive way of sealing it back up with these weird piercings and a web of sutures that needed to be tighten daily at the vet's office. His leg was just too muscular for any of that nonsense and that surgery completely failed to hold his skin together. Yesterday, they did a whole bunch of cutting and stitching to loosen up his skin and get it all back together. His hind leg was described by one friend as "Frankenbutt" and that pretty much nails what it looks like right now. He's a tough little guy so he's doing okay but I've had to be the dog nanny to keep him on the mend. Honestly, I'd be devastated if I couldn't be there for him so I don't want to make that sound like I begrudge it.

My best friend and Ikea lamp impersonator: Ian Mackaynine.
(His "Frankenbutt" is on the other side. You don't want to see it.)

There have been periods here and there where he's been heavily sedated and I'm just hanging out with him, keeping an eye on him. When I can I've taken a deep breath here and there to clear my head. I decided to put myself back into some scenery because it always relaxes me. Which it just so happens that right before this string of surgeries and endless vet visits a care package arrived from Horizon 3D containing a myriad of bitz. The ones I had an immediate plan for were their rivet strips and hex sheets. I had been planning on using plastruct I-beams and window screen to shore up sections of crumbling rock wall and create some added visual interest, but then these bitz arrived on my doorstep.

A scrap of hex sheet and a rivet strip from Horizon 3D.

The hex sheets come in approximately 2"x4" lengths, perfect for my mines. The rivet strips are just over 8" long. These bitz are printed right off of a 3D printer so they don't have the smooth finish. Don't expect them to have the polish of resin or the ultra-professional grade 3D printers used to run off the print prototypes we use for our miniature line. However, for these sort of terrain applications they look great and are pretty easy to work with. It should be noted that the hex sheets don't have much flex before they crack. Don't expect to wrap them around toilet tubes or anything like that, but as fencing or flooring it adds a top notch layer of detail.


Here I took a couple sections of hex sheet and framed it in with some rivet strips keeping it roughly 4" long.


I roughly put the missing section of fence where there might be water leaking through the crack. It's also where equipment might be navigating the turn and hitting the rusty grating. It just felt like the right spot for a little bit of extra support or protection from falling debris.


I decided to prime and paint it to see how it would look painted up but I was out of Chaos Black Primer. I knew it was going to be rusty so I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed the open can of Mephiston Red I had, and gave it a quick spray on a pizza box (the pizza was delicious).


The red fence was given a hasty drybrush of Citadel Warplock Bronze leaving some Citadel Mephiston Red exposed.


Then I gave it an even hastier drybrush of Citadel Leadbelcher.


Finally I gaven it several stippled applications of Citadel Ryza Rust focusing on the bottom and around the gap in the fence.


Next I wanted to glue it in place. CA glue/superglue would eat into the foam so I used wood glue. I put my pots of paint on it to help press it to the foam wall.


After the wood glue dried it was visible at the bottom of the fencing so I stained it brown with some Citadel Agrax Earthshade. When it dried I used some Forgeworld Aged Rust and Light Rust weathering powders.


Finally here is the completed piece - my first "T" section. I think the Horizon 3D bitz definitely add a little pizzaz with half the work of what I would normally go through hand gluing rivets and trying to glue plastruct to floppy screen. I hear if you type BROKENCONTRACT as your discount code Horizon 3D will give you 10% off. Go check out the site and give it a try. :)

Thanks for reading and check out the other parts of the series!
-Nick

Making Mine Scenery Part I
Making Mine Scenery Part II
Making Mine Scenery Part III
Making Mine Scenery Part IV
Making Mine Scenery Part V
Making Mine Scenery Part VI
Making Mine Scenery Part VII
Making Mine Scenery Part VIII
Making Mine Scenery Part IX
Making Mine Scenery Part X